Property buying guide for Bulgaria
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Visas, residence permits and citizenship in Bulgaria
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Visas, residence permits and citizenship in Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, immigration is governed by the law “On Foreign Citizens” (Закон за чужденците в Република България) which defines the rules for visas and residence permits.


Even though Bulgaria is part of the EU, it is not a member of the Schengen area so it has its own visa regime. Nevertheless, visitors with a Schengen visa are authorised to enter Bulgaria.

Type C visa (tourist): short-term visa for stays up to 90 days over six months. Property owners in Bulgaria can apply for one-year multiple entry visas.

Type D visa (long-term): valid for six months to one year. They are issued to individuals wishing to settle for the long term or permanently in Bulgaria through an embassy or consulate. Applications are submitted in person and include an interview. Documents required include bank statements proving funds of $40 per day/person if unemployed or proof of employment and a criminal background check (original and certified translation).

You must leave the country to prolong a Bulgarian visa. Exceptions are possible in special cases (e.g., health condition).

Residence permits

Residence permits are issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. When applying, the authorities require proof of accommodation (ownership or rental), employment or Type D visas as well as sufficient funds and medical insurance.

For families, one member has the right to apply. If they are successful, the other family members can apply under the family reunification rules.

It takes one month to process an application. Prolongation requests should be submitted no less than 14 days before the expiration date and contain renewed proof of accommodation.

Once the application is approved, residents are given an ID card (Карта на продължително пребиваващ в РБ Чужденец). Residence permit holders are considered Bulgarian residents.

If your application is successful, you are entitled to:

  • visa-free entry and stay in Bulgaria
  • open a business
  • employment with permission from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy
  • access to education in schools and universities
  • medical care
  • invite foreign citizens for private visits under a guest visa

For a one-year residence permit (продължително пребиваване), you must have the necessary documents (see above) and meet one of the following conditions:

  • business owner in Bulgaria employing at least 10 Bulgarian citizens
  • marriage to Bulgarian citizen
  • representative of a foreign company registered with the Chamber of Trade and Commerce of Bulgaria (Българска търговско-промишлена палата)
  • patient in long-term hospital care in Bulgaria
  • foreign media correspondent accredited by Bulgaria authorities
  • pensioner with sufficient funds to live (i.e., €80/month in 2015 or BGN 157 (Bulgarian Lev)) and a Bulgarian bank account with at least €1,500
  • family member of a foreign residence permit holder in Bulgaria
  • full-time student in Bulgaria

Exception for real estate investors:

As of 19 February 2013, a residence permit can be obtained by buying real estate worth at least €300,000 (BGN 600,000) or more. The ownership can be personal or through a legal entity where the applicant holds at least 50% equity.

Long-term residence

The long-term residence permit (дългосрочно пребиваване) is similar to permanent residence but holders cannot apply for citizenship later on. You can apply for this permit after five years of holding a short-term residence permit.

Holders are given an ID card (Карта на дългосрочно пребиваващ в РБ Чужденец) valid for five years. To prolong it, all you need to do is submit an application. Family members of a long-term resident can apply for a residence permit too.

To apply, you must not have been absent from EU territory for more than ten months or six months in a row. A long-term residence permit can be revoked if you are absent from EU territory for more than 12 month.

Permanent residence

Permanent residence (разрешение за постоянно пребиваване) gives holders the same rights as citizens, except the right to vote. You can apply for permanent residence after five years of legal residence in Bulgaria.

The following categories are entitled to permanent residence:

  • foreign citizens of Bulgarian origin
  • children under 18 (dependents of permanent residents)
  • parents of Bulgarian citizens
  • investors putting €500,000 (BGN 1M) into the Bulgarian economy
  • family members of Bulgarian citizens who have lived in Bulgaria for the last five years

Permanent residence allows holders to stay indefinitely on the territory of Bulgaria. They receive a Unified Citizen Number (UCN) and an ID card (Карта на постоянно пребиваващ в РБ Чужденец). Close family members have the right to apply for permanent residence.

If the holder is absent from EU territory for more than 12 months, permanent residence received on the basis of Bulgarian origin or investment may be revoked.

Permit revocation

The following situations are punishable by revocation of residence rights:

  • criminal offences with prison sentences of three years or more
  • false or forged documents and false information used to enter Bulgaria and obtain a residence permit
  • health conditions that are public health risks according to World Health Organization criteria, lack of vaccination certificates and/or arrival from an area of sanitary and epidemiological risk
  • lack of financial means for subsistence and compulsory insurance necessary for the duration of stay and consequent departure
  • previous border, visa, currency, tax, labour or customs violations
  • sham (fake) marriage to obtain a residence permit

How to get citizenship

Bulgarian citizenship is regulated by the law “On Bulgarian Citizenship” (Закон за българското гражданство). Bulgarian citizenship is recognised as EU citizenship, meaning that holders have the right to visa-free travel to other EU countries for up to six months at a time. The Citizenship Board of the Ministry of Justice of Republic of Bulgaria is responsible for decisions regarding citizenship requests.

Applicants must comply with the following criteria for citizenship:

  • permanent residence for five years prior to application
  • no criminal charges or convictions of any kind in Bulgaria
  • means of financial subsistence such as employment, rental income or pension above the national minimum wage
  • speaks Bulgarian
  • gives up any other citizenship by the moment Bulgarian citizenship is granted

Naturalisation takes three years in the following cases:

  • marriage to a Bulgarian citizen for three years or more
  • individuals born in Bulgaria
  • permanent residence holders before the age of 18

Residence permit («Golden Visa») in other countries:

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    Property buying guide for Bulgaria
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    Anna Boyarchukova
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